Breaking down the presidential candidates’ stances on issues – Jim Clark |

Breaking down the presidential candidates’ stances on issues – Jim Clark

Stories such as Donald Trump’s town meeting being disrupted by protestors and Hillary Clinton’s marathon examination by the Congressional Benghazi Committee tend to dominate the political news, eclipsing the other candidates of both parties who are not deemed newsworthy on any given day.

So what can we voters learn about where the candidates stand on the major issues facing the nation? Not much. The media are going to report news that helps them sell newspapers or TV commercials.

Moreover, candidates’ stands on issues can be moving targets. Who can forget the immortal words of Presidential Candidate John Kerry who famously said, “I voted for that before I voted against it,” or Hillary Clinton’s support for the Keystone Pipeline and the Pacific Trade Pact morphing into opposition when she found herself trying to “out Socialist” Bernie Sanders.

Nevertheless, your fearless columnist has researched issue positions of all current presidential candidates, Democrat and Republican, and, with a hat tip to the Des Moines (IA) Register, presents them herewith.

Taxes: the following Republicans would lower corporate and personal income taxes to promote economic growth: Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Lindsay Graham, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, George Pataki and Mario Rubio.

Donald Trump would lower corporate taxes but increase personal taxes on the wealthy. Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Rick Santorum would replace the tax code with a flat tax while Mike Huckabee and Democrat Jim Webb would replace it with a consumption tax.

Democrats Hillary Clinton, Lincoln Chafee, Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders would raise corporate, personal and capital gains taxes.

Minimum wage: Republicans Ben Carson, Rick Santorum and Democrats Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, Bernie Sanders and Jim Webb would raise the minimum wage to ameliorate the income gap.

Republicans Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Lindsay Graham, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Donald Trump would leave it alone because increases hurt business. Jeb Bush and Carley Fiorina would leave it to the states.

Health care: Favoring repeal of Obamacare are Republicans Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christi, Jim Gilmore, Lindsay Graham, John Kasich, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Donald Trump.

Supporting Obamacare as is are Democrats Lincoln Chafee, Hillary Clinton and Martin O’Malley. Favoring modifications but not repeal of Obamacare are Republican John Kasich and Democrat Jim Webb. Democrat Bernie Sanders favors an expansion of Obamacare into a single payer universal system.

Iran nuclear deal: In favor of terminating immediately are Republicans Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Lindsay Graham, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum.

Also opposing the deal but favoring renegotiation are Republicans Jeb Bush, Chris Christi, John Kasich Rand Paul, Donald Trump and Democrat Jim Webb. Favoring the agreement as is are Democrats Lincoln Chafee, Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders.

Unfortunately we don’t have candidate position statements on the ISIS threat, lifting the debt ceiling, Social Security reform, climate change and others, probably because positions may change depending on what states candidates are campaigning in as the lead up to the election continues.

Donald Trump has famously (infamously?) promised to deport all illegals; Hillary Clinton said: “the wealthy pay too little in taxes and the middle class pays too much.”

Stanford Economist and op-ed writer Tom Sowell has little use for such vague terms. It reflects “the mindlessness of our times” when candidates declare that the “rich” pay too little in taxes but fail to define “rich” or that “illegals” will be deported without defining “illegals” or explaining how such a drastic measure is practically and financially feasible.

“Words are … used not to convey facts but simply to arouse emotions; (Vagueness) is a big plus in politics where the goal is not clarity but victory,” Sowell wrote.

So maybe in the end, candidates’ weasel-worded position statements don’t tell us much anyhow.

Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates. He has served on the Washoe County and Nevada GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at

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